Category Archives: travel

R.I.O.–My Motorbike

One of the things I love most about living here is that one of the easiest ways to get around is to take a motorbike.  I really enjoy riding, especially since I don’t know that I’ll ever go near a motorcycle in the US.  The biggest difference is the speed: here, you are usually going somewhere around 20-30 mph, and there’s no freeways.  Although accidents happen all the time and people do get seriously injured, it is usually because they weren’t wearing a helmet.  Needless to say, I always wear mine (I have  wife and 2 kids; no way I’m going to ride around without one!).

Bikes are a lot smaller here than in the US.  The biggest you ever see on the road is 250cc (cubic centimeters), and that’s rare.  Most bikes here are 110cc-125cc, and there’s another slightly bigger class of bike that’s usually 150cc-160cc.  That sounds tiny, but considering the driving style, the road conditions, and the speeds it’s more than enough.  Here’s my bike:

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It’s a 2009 Honda SupraX, with a 125cc engine and a centrifugal clutch.  It does everything I could want it to: it’s quick around town and for weaving in and out of traffic jams, and it can go plenty fast when I get out on the open road on the way to the village.  There I can usually go somewhere around 75-85kph (47-53mph).  The bike maxes out around 110kph (68mph) but I rarely go that fast here.  Gas mileage is around 90-100mpg, so no complaints there!

Of course, I’m always dreaming and I’d love to have an older bike to work on and restore.  I saw this one yesterday and loved it (the photo has been Instagrammed):2012-05-07 10.32.20

It’s a Honda Win, 100cc.  Older bike, but classic style, reliable, and literally able to go anywhere here since it’s so light.  But that’s for me to dream about…

One more shot of my bike:

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  One of my favorite things to look for is some of the crazy things people put on the backs of their bikes here. You’ll see families of 5 (even 6!) all on one bike, a huge pile of wood on the back, things for sale, 10 foot bamboo poles, and all kinds of other crazy stuff. Next time we get some good pictures we’ll post them here.  One of the other things on the to-do list is to get some video while riding the bike to give you a taste of traffic here.  Coming soon…


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The Journey

Hello all!

Matt just returned this evening from a trip to one of the villages where we work. He was there to support the translation team as they prepare for the upcoming consultant check for the book of Matthew. Getting close to being done! Here at home, we had a successful time too! No one got sick (thanks for praying!) and the power never went out – yay!

I know you all just really want to hear how our long (loooong, looooooooong) journey  was from America all the way here. I know that we have been here for two weeks now, but I think that I finally have processed being here, landing, jet-lag, and unpacking enough now that I can reflect back on it a little bit. The whole trip was better than I expected it to be. The flights (#s 1 and 2) from Ohio to California were pretty uneventful other than having to pay an arm and a leg for our 8 pieces of checked baggage on a domestic flight. Grrrrr. Oh well. C’est la vie. Elizabeth now LOVES to fly, and she was so excited to get on an airplane again that we really didn’t have to do much to keep her entertained. Both girls even took a (short) nap on the second flight.

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Charlotte was very curious!

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There was a lot of this…

I was glad that we had an overnight in San Francisco so that we didn’t have to start the really long haul to Asia already tired. We were able to get a good night’s sleep before the next flights. Those flights (#s 3 and 4) were L-O-N-G. The 12 hour flight from San Francisco to Seoul, Korea was SO much better than I expected that I wished we could’ve just kept going instead of having to get off and back on the same airplane again. We all got to sleep on that flight, and the girls and I all slept for like 5 hours in the middle of the trip which on an airplane with two small kids is a small miracle. Yay!

The flight from Korea to Singapore was the roughest one. None of us wanted to get back on an airplane for another 6 hour flight. No one really got to sleep for very long, even though we were all tired, and Charlotte decided to scream herself hoarse on this one. At least then the sceaming was silent…. (sad). She had a pretty bad cold also, so we kept her going on the Ibuprofen and Benadryl almost the whole time. Poor thing! But a big THANK YOU to Aunt Denise who gave Charlotte some Sesame Street stickers for her birthday. They kept her entertained for hours. HOURS. We put them everywhere. And then moved them. And then ate puffs. Puffs and stickers got us through!

We had an 8 hour layover in Singapore and we went straight to the transit hotel when we got there (it was 1 in the morning Singapore time, but felt like I don’t know what to us… we were pretty mixed up by then). We showered and tried to put the kids to bed. I think we all slept something like less than 2 hours. I think. It was a little fuzzy. Anyway, we were up early enough to have time to get breakfast in the airport, look at the butterfly garden…

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(sorry it’s blurry, it was REALLY humid in there and I was trying to keep two kids from ripping the butterflies apart)

… and still be one of the first ones to our gate. The flight from Singapore to Jakarta (#5) was only 1.5 hours, and it felt good to be back in Indonesia when we got here. All our bags made it safely, too!

This was when the jet-lag hit us really hard. We all went to bed by 6:30 p.m.  But then we were up nice and early (ha ha!) for our final two flights to our home city (#s 6 and 7). We didn’t have a seat for Charlotte on those flights, so she sat on our laps. It worked just fine, but neither of the girls napped at all that day. So we were all really tired again and went to bed by 7:30 p.m. But… we were up nice and early the next day to get a great start on all the unpacking.

Which is what I’ve been doing since. Unpacking, settling, re-organizing, going through and tossing, and wiping. Wiping and wiping and wiping. The kitchen (EVERYTHING in the kitchen), the floors, the doors, and I’m not done yet. I think coming straight from America gave me new eyes to see the dirt that I am not willing to live with. Hoping it will last.

Okay… I hope I didn’t bore you with the miniscule details of our travel back to our home here in Indonesia. We miss everyone in America! In some ways it feels like we’ve already been back for a really long time, and in some ways like we’ve barely been here at all. I’m sure some of you can relate.

P.S. – I forgot to praise the Lord for Dramamine Less Drowsy. Lasts 24 hours and I didn’t get sick at all. AT ALL. But yes, I took it for 4 days straight.


Filed under family, our kids, travel, Uncategorized

Journey to the [other side] of the Earth.

Saturday morning, we get on our first airplane to go back to Indonesia. Only 3 more days……. aaaaaahhhhhhh!!!

So here is the plan.

Saturday, March 31st – fly from Cincinnati to San Francisco via Denver. 2 flights.

Sunday, April 1st –Tuesday, April 3rd – fly from San Francisco to Jakarta via Seoul, Korea and Singapore (we have an nine hour layover in Singapore and we are getting a transit hotel there). 3 flights.

Wednesday, April 4th – fly from Jakarta to our city in Central Sulawesi with one stop. 2 flights.

Did you get that? Total 5 days and 7 airplanes. With a 3 year old and a 1 year old. Yes, we are crazy.

We actually have purposely built in a little more time so that we can lay down in a bed at a few points during our trip. We’re trying it and hopefully it will be better than the same number of flights and no break at all.

Oh yeah… did I mention that I get airsick? Less drowsy Dramamine is going to be my best friend this time. Hopefully it will make me able to function as a Mommy and not feel sick the whole time. That’s what I’m praying for!

We have a whole stack of stuff prepared to keep our little girls entertained during the flights. And Benadryl. For when they need to sleep and just can’t. We have toys, coloring books, snacks, toys, snacks, my tablet, our phones, a computer, snacks, juice, and more toys. Did I mention snacks? Really, when you’re on that long of a trip you will do anything to keep your kids happy. The idea of quiet books and crafts are fine, but when they get really cranky – a movie and some gummy bears, please! Followed closely by Benadryl.

The packing has begun. Thanks to my wonderful father: he got almost all of it done this morning. As of yesterday I didn’t have a single thing (not one!) in a suitcase and it was stressing me out a little. Now I just have to do the carry-ons and finish up one last bag.

Please pray for us as we pack up and travel! We’ll need every bit of grace with ourselves, each other, and other people during our long long journey.


Filed under family, travel

EMDC 2012

Last week I was in Germany at the Eurasia Media & Distribution Consultation, and it was excellent!  It was an amazing combination of all the nerdy, geeky things I like to do combined with our work in the ethnoarts.  It was a week of talking about:

  • A/V documentation in minority people groups
  • getting media and Scripture onto phones
  • websites
  • Android and iPhone apps
  • copyright and informed consent
  • communication
  • software
  • orality and non-print media
  • and more!

I was very glad to be there for this conference, and I’ve come back with some great ideas for our work in Indonesia.  It’s exciting to talk to so many people on the cutting edge of technology and the arts for ministry.  There will be more on this later; as we start doing some new things I’ll try to keep posting about it here. 

Germany was beautiful, and I only wish I’d had some time to look around and do some sightseeing.  Of course, I’m not really allowed to go traipsing around Europe without my wife; I was under strict orders!  Here’s a few pictures of the area around where we had the conference:

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And of course, I had a layover in Paris so I had to have a nice breakfast.  Croissants and cappuccinos  really are better there:

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Much Delayed…

So I guess that we’re really bad at blogging through transitions, which might get really tricky since most of our lives are just one big transition :). Sorry that it’s been so long!  Right now, we are in our new home here in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.  But, let me back up a little bit.  We did have a really good summer travelling in Thailand and Singapore and here are a few highlights from our trip.  I’m going to split everything we did into several different posts so that none of them end up being too ridiculously long.

With our friends Chris and Becca, we hiked up to see a waterfall near Chiang Mai, Thailand. Of course the guys had to climb as high as they possibly could (somewhat safely).


Here we are exploring the same waterfall a little further down where the kids could actually touch the water.


After that we went to see a Buddhist temple. It was quite a sight, and I have never seen anything that ornately decorated with gold before in my life. We took a ton of pictures and here are a few of the best.  While things like this are very interesting to see for their artistic characteristics, they are also a poignant spiritual reminder.

An interesting music ensemble:


Daddy and Elizabeth looking at the interesting things.


Lots of different Buddhas – some of gold, and one of solid jade.

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Like I said, almost everything was covered in gold! (even the scaffolding that they were using to do some repairs/restoration had been coated with gold paint)


The temple was very high up on a mountain. Here is a view looking at the temple from the back.


And a view from the temple looking out over Chiang Mai.


Here are the steps we had to climb to get up to the temple. Being at altitude didn’t help me (Kara) much. I was so out of breath about half-way up! I really need to get in shape :).


It was a really fun day and a very interesting learning experience about Thai culture.  Thanks Chris and Becca for showing us around!

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Capoeira in Singapore?

During our visit to Singapore, we’re staying in a friend-of-a-friend’s apartment.  We’re so thankful for this opportunity, which is saving us tons of money!  The apartment is on the 23rd floor of a high-rise, so things are generally pretty quiet. A few days ago I could faintly hear some rhythmic singing and clapping, and we could not figure out where it was coming from.  I finally went out on the balcony and spotted them – a group of singing, clapping, and martial-arts-dancing people gathered in a circle.  It was too far away to really see what was happening, so I went and grabbed the video camera. 

This is the video I shot from the balcony, 23 floors up.  In addition, they were across the river and a few blocks away, so this was quite a distance!  Somehow the sound carried all the way up to us, but the quality isn’t too great.  This is one of those times when I was kicking myself for not having brought along our shotgun microphone!  You can tell how far away I am because of how the sound doesn’t seem to quite line up.

The video is a little over 3 minutes, but they danced for closer to 30.

Capoeira in Singapore? from Matt Menger on Vimeo.

This really reminded me of Capoeira, a Brazilian dance/martial arts tradition, and after some quick internet research it turns out that I was probably correct.  You can read about the group here, where they were featured on a Singaporean website.

This is one thing I didn’t expect to see in Singapore!

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Our last two weeks

Wow! It really doesn’t seem like we only have two weeks left here in Bandung. Matt and I both officially finished school yesterday – yay!! Now, I need to get going on the house. Even though we are having a moving company pack us, there is still a lot of organizing that I need to do. When they were packing Paul and Krisanne’s house this past weekend, they accidentally packed the pile of give-away things, and Krisanne had to go through and dig it all back out again. I had better not leave Elizabeth sitting around or they’ll wrap her in paper and pack her too :).

I always hate the initial stages of moving. Once I get going I’m fine, but taking that first picture down off the wall is always such a challenge for me. It’s like I don’t want to admit that everything is very soon going to be completely different. As long as everything still looks the same, it won’t ever change, right? I’m giving myself this weekend to get the process started. One of the advantages to moving a lot (and to the other side of the world) is that you don’t collect all that much useless stuff. But there is still the inevitable sorting of things to throw away, give away, and ship away. And all this with a one and a half year old that loves to undo the things that I just did :). I am so thankful for the adventures that God gives us in life! The last two times we moved, Elizabeth had a lot of fun playing in the empty boxes.



I think this time she will be much more interested in the things INSIDE the boxes! Seeing these pictures again reminds me how fast our precious girl is growing up. It goes so fast, and I am so thankful for every moment. Elizabeth has been such a wonderful blessing in our life and it is so fun to see her little personality develop. We’ll be sure to post lots of pictures!

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Taman Safari

Things have been crazy around here lately, so sorry that it’s been a little while since the last post. Since our friends left two weeks ago, I (Kara) went to a Women’s Retreat near Jakarta with a bunch of women from church (and Matt and Elizabeth had a fun weekend together), I finished my last unit of language studies and took my final test (YAAAAY!!), and since yesterday was my birthday, we decided to take a trip to a really cool place here on Java, Taman Safari. I know, a LOT has been going on. We have one month left in Bandung, and time is really flying!

So, Taman Safari is a combination zoo/drive-through wildlife park. After a three hour drive to get there, we started out at the petting zoo to stretch our legs a little bit. There were kangaroos just running free right around us!


They had all these animals that you could pay to take pictures with, including baby tigers, a little bitty lion, and even a full-sized leopard! We think the animals were mildly sedated so that they would be safe to be around. This was our first clue that there were some drugs involved :).


In the end we decided to get pictures with a little chimpanzee. Elizabeth was really excited about it until we actually got the chimp close to her… then she freaked out. You can see in the pictures the mix between terror and curiosity.



And then Matt got cute and tickled the chimp – it giggled!


After that we ate some lunch and then fed some elephants. Again Elizabeth was so excited to see them, but a little unsure to be so close to them. I don’t blame her – they’re really big!


Then we stopped for a little ice cream break. My sweet little girl!

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Then we did the drive-through safari part. There were zebras, elephants, llama, tons of deer-like things that have all sorts of names that I don’t know, tigers, bears, giraffe, hippos, birds, camels, and I’m sure some other things that I’m forgetting. It was really cool to see them up close in a more natural environment. The zebra and the llama are so used to getting fed that they would aggressively chase the car down, stick their head in the windows, and then after they didn’t get any more carrots or bananas they would start biting the car! Here are a few assorted pictures. After a while Elizabeth got brave and started feeding them some carrots :).



Look at those horns, you Texans!



There were some really funny signs on the drive through too, warning people to be careful about having their arms eaten by camels, and not to get out of their cars or they will be chased by a wild animal!



We were going to go see a dolphin show, but it was cancelled because it was sprinkling. So, we decided to go in and see if we could see the dolphins anyways and it ended up that they had the dolphins do all sorts of tricks just for us and then invited us up to see and touch the dolphins! I had never touched a dolphin before and it was really fun. Elizabeth had just woken up from a little nap so she was still really sleepy and a little scared of the dolphins (again, loved watching them but didn’t want to touch them).


Next, we saw that there was a waterfall that we could walk to and headed up there. This was the HIGHLIGHT of my birthday!! I just LOVE to see waterfalls – the cool crisp mist, the breeze, the sound, the power… sigh. It was so fun to see it! Here are a few pics (of course):




All in all, it was a really fun but very tiring day. The long drive there and back were the most tiring parts. We are so thankful for the opportunity to do these special things while we are here on Java, and this really was a fun trip for the whole family.

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Late Wednesday night last week, our good friends David and Cameron arrived to visit us here in Bandung! Cameron just completed her Ph.D. in neuroscience and as a celebration they took a 2 and a half week trip to New Zealand, Australia, and Indonesia. It was so great to see some friends again! They had two full days here in Bandung before we had to get them back to Jakarta to catch their plane back to America. We talked and talked, got caught up on a lot of news from our Sunday School class and church back in Houston, ate lots of yummy food, and saw lots of sights! By the end we were all really tired, but we sure did have lots of fun together :).

One of the things that we did with them we had never done before – a trip to the volcano that is pretty close to Bandung. You can drive right up, park next to the crater, and walk around. Here we all are up at the top.


It was something to look down into that crater!


This volcano, Palabuhan Ratu, last erupted in 1983, and is 6,000 ft. high. There were gases coming out of vents in several places around the crater, and the entire place smelled like sulfur (rotten eggs). It was nice and cool up there and we hiked about half-way around the crater. Here are a few more pictures:



From up on top you could look out over the surrounding area and see the clouds forming below. They moved really really fast and were really cool to watch!



Elizabeth is really into playing with rocks lately, and she loved having me pick them up for her so that she could throw them down into the crater. It was a pretty steep drop-off.



Then we hiked some more! Elizabeth ended up falling asleep and taking a nap in the carrier.


But then we had to stop because we ran into this sign (poison gas!):


So as we were walking back the clouds started coming up really fast and spilling over the edge of the crater. Not the best weather to be out hiking in, but it sure was beautiful! It is so amazing to see all of the awe-inspiring and unique places that God has created on this Earth.


We are so thankful for our friends and all of their encouragement and support. It is one of the greatest blessings in life to see friends after a few years and it feel like you just met yesterday. We so miss all of our friends and family back home, but are so thankful for the opportunities that God has put before us. Our home is always open to anyone wanting to visit!

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Sulawesi Island


Beautiful, right? Yeah… there are some really rough things about having a ministry on an island in Southeast Asia, let me tell you! Yesterday we all went to the beach. This beach was in a bay about an hour drive from the city we are visiting, and it was just perfect. Clear water, no waves, snorkeling, a little hut where we could sit in the shade and the kids could rest. It was such a wonderful day! Since it feels like 100 degrees constantly here with no A/C, swimming was a great way to get out, do something, and cool down at the same time.

Here is our family – we all had such a fun time!


This past weekend our regional team leader was here visiting us and after lots of discussion our team has been adjusted to include four families now: us (the Mengers), Paul and Krisanne, Derek and Kristie, and Max and Janet.

Max is from Indonesia and Janet is from America, they have two children (Penny, 2 and Jethro, 7 mo.), and they have been here in the area the longest of anyone. They also have been so gracious in opening their home to us to stay during our visit here!


Derek and Kristie are from Canada, have two boys (Jayden, 7 and Cedric, 5,) and have been working here for a few years already also. This is the first time we have been able to meet them, and we’re so glad to know them in person now!


Paul and Krisanne are in language school with us in Bandung and are expecting their first baby (boy) this summer.


It is such a blessing to have so many Western kids that Elizabeth can play with here! They all had so much fun splashing together in the water and the older ones are really good at playing with and watching out for the little ones.


This time Elizabeth was brave enough to walk into the water and splash all by herself, and we would have to stop her once the water got almost up to her chin. My girl is growing up!




And, did I mention how beautiful it was?


We have one more day here before flying back to Bandung on Friday morning. It has been a wonderful trip and such a blessing to have this time here on Sulawesi. We have a much better idea of what it will be like to live here, what we can and cannot get, what our team will look like, and what/where our village allocation will be. It has been so encouraging! Thank you so much to everyone that is praying for us – they are all really felt! It is exciting to see each step revealed before us, and thank God constantly for his provision of everything that we need to take each step, even when what we need is a relaxing day at the beach!

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